A trending news story today is regarding Heather Graham. In the article, she discusses her decision to not have children. What struck me, and simultaneously annoyed the shit out of me, was the tone of the article. She was portrayed as defending her decision. Why? Why does a woman, in this supposedly enlightened culture that professes equality for women, find herself in a position where she needs to defend her choice to not have a family? I hear the word “choice” thrown around an awful lot in matters of sexuality. Why is the choice to not utilize her reproductive system not given the same respect? If you choose to abort a child then you are championed and celebrated, but if you choose not to get pregnant at all you are villainized?
In the interview, Heather states, “I do feel like, as a woman, culturally, you’re not allowed to say, ‘I didn’t want to have kids.’ Because it’s like, ‘What’s wrong with you?'”.
Exactly. I have seen it culturally as well as with people that I know in which women, married or otherwise, have decided that they do not want to have children. I have seen the blowback. They are asked if something is wrong physically. If nothing is offered as physically wrong, then it is assumed that the woman has something wrong emotionally.
Have you noticed that it isn’t the same with men? Heather further states, “I think as a man it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, cool, you didn’t want to have kids.” Why is that? I swear, and I hope that I’m wrong, that it is the regrettably not outdated notion that because you can, you should. How Catholic.
Ms. Graham further stated, “Now, women are getting freer to just make their own choices.” I hope she is correct. But to me it seems to be wishful thinking. Because in addition to the unnecessary physical and emotional scrutiny over a woman’s choice of whether to have children, they are additionally subject to something that men who choose not to be parents also must attend to.
The label of Selfish.
I’m surprised that Heather Graham didn’t get accused of that.
Selfish is one of those words that carry an unnecessarily negative connotation. Yes, one definition defines selfishness as being devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
Still, another is characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself.
On the surface, both are worded a bit harshly. Particularly with the use of the words “regardless of others” and “oneself”. If you remove them what you really have is a person that tends to their own self-interest first. The first question that begs to be asked is what is so wrong with that!?
I am quite sure that the many people who choose not to take on the awesome responsibility, and burden, of raising children are doing so because they are focusing on their own lives. I say good for them.
Parenting is wonderful and rewarding. I am a father of 4 amazing kids. I love them more than anything. But raising them was 90% of everything I did, every choice I made, and every worry that I had. It was emotionally and financially exhausting. To do parenting right, that is how you need to approach it.
Well, what if your career aspirations, your finances, your educational goals, and your plan for your life don’t allow the time, commitment, love, and resources needed to have a family? What if you simply know that you can’t, or dare I say, don’t want to do it?
We have an obligation to take care of ourselves in this world. If you’ve ever been on a plane, the flight attendant tells you to put your own mask on before assisting others.
We are taught that we are here exclusively for others. I debate that, we should be allowed to choose to take care of ourselves at some point. It is a shame something so logical and essential needs to be defended.